The First Reality Show: An American Family

While the 1970s were certainly a simpler time, the idea of the reality show craze was certainly still real even back then. Take a look back at the amazing Loud Family, the stars of the first ever reality show An American Family! Find out behind-the-scenes information, ties to other shows, and where the family is now.

A Pioneer In Reality Television


Back in 1971, PBS filmed a television documentary called An American Family. It was subsequently aired in 1973. It is widely considered the first of what has now become countless reality television shows. Upon beginning filming, the intent was to simply chronicle the day-to-day life of an American family, hence the title.

However, it ultimately ended up showcasing the demise of a family, as the parents Bill and Pat Loud ended up separating and subsequently divorcing. This is now a setup that we have seen happen time and time again throughout the reality shows that appear on air. The producers filmed over three hundred hours of footage and edited it down to one series of twelve episodes.